Archontophoenix purpurea is a stunning relative of the more common King Palm (Archontophoenix cunninghamiana). Its common name, "Mount Lewis" is derived from the fact that its natural habitat is limited to the Mount Lewis area of northeast Queensland, Australia, where it grows in montane rainforests at up to 1200m/3900' above sea level. This species is endemic to northern Queensland, Australia where it grows in swamps and rain-forests to 1200 m in elevation. In habitat, it grows in well-drained, humus-laden soils which is subject to, and tolerates periodic flooding.
The attractively ringed gray trunk grows to 25m/80' tall and up to 300mm/12" in diameter with a nice basal flare. The slightly recurved pinnate fronds have a fairly flat leaflet arrangement and grow to 4m/13' in length. Leaflets are anywhere from a bright mid green to dark green, varying with light exposure. The undersides of the leaves, like a King Palm, have small brown hairs, but unlike the King have a silvery underside . This species is easily distinguishable from other "Archies" by its long, purple, slightly bulbous crownshaft, which can be almost red immediately after an old leaf base has fallen or been removed.
Although still fairly rare in cultivation compared with the King Palm, A. purpurea shows similar adaptability being suitable for a variety of climates ranging from tropical right through to some cool temperate. This adaptability, combined with its stunning features, should help to improve its popularity in cultivation. Archontophoenix purpurea looks best grown in partial shade, but will handle full sun with an abundance of water and can even sit happily in fairly wet, poor draining soils for part of the year. It will survive minor short term frosts but should be given some protection and a southern exposure where it will get early morning sun in some of the cooler areas. We sell this beauty in one gallon pots and ship them bare root in moist moss. Supplies extremely limited.